Miami Marlins: A Different Perspective
Exploring the dynamic of baseball in Miami, and in doing so, asking the people of Miami to to support this team once more
The relationship between the beautiful game of baseball and the majestic city of Miami is complex. On paper the relationship should read rather easily. Miami is a city heavily touched by its diverse population; Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and many other Hispanic cultures enrich our city. They (we) enrich this city with music, dance, flavor, spirit and so many other amazing elements. While there are many differences within these cultures, one similarity stands tall; an unyielding desire and passion for the game of baseball. See, while baseball is America’s pastime, it was not truly perfected until it became a worldwide game. With that globalization of baseball came the added spirit, celebration and flair of the Caribbean and South American fans. A passion that us Americans get to witness periodically during the World Baseball Classic; the fans, the players, the coaches of these foreign teams are filled with baseball spirit. The best part of this passion is that, on paper, it is not limited to places outside of the U.S. As a matter of fact, Miami is the perfect microcosm of all of it, and it is right here for us to enjoy.
It then becomes clear, does it not? Clear that on paper, baseball and this city is a match made in passioned-filled baseball Heaven. Of course it is. It is such a beautifully simple plan:
- Apply for a franchise based in Miami
- Name it something local…maybe something having to do with the sea life
- Sell the players to the local population (who loves baseball)
- Win 2 World Series Titles in the first two decades
- Enjoy continued and unrivaled success
(Please save me the lecture on how difficult it actually is, I’m trying to prove a point here)
Baseball bliss. Except…it isn’t. This “on paper” scenario may look similar to reality, but what is it missing?. There is in fact a baseball franchise in Miami (1). They are in fact called the Miami Marlins (2). This franchise has won 2 World Series Titles, 1997 & 2003 (4). But the enjoyment of great success is not present. There are not sold out crowds on a daily…weekly…monthly…basis. Merchandise and TV ratings do not compete with other baseball teams, or even with other sport teams within their own city. The owner is not necessarily loved. The local media does not give enough airtime or respect (we all remember the showdown between local media and Marlins Writers and employees last season), and most importantly, the fan base is desolate.
I know these things, I say these things because I am a part of the “desolate.” I LOVE baseball and my Miami Marlins. I remember being the only fan, along with my mother, sitting in the upper deck at Pro Player Stadium, during those brutal weekend games. I have photos of myself, as a young child, at multiple meet and greets, with the ’97 World Series Trophy, basically with anything Marlins-related. My mother had to pay the coaches for me to play on the Little Marlins in Little League because although the team was full, I did not want to play for any other named team (spoiled was I, and clearly not talented enough to edge out kids already on the roster). But you get the point, the Marlins are in my blood, they are a part of who I am. So when I say that I understand why this city has turned their back on the franchise, believe me.
Believe me because although it may be hard to stop rooting for a team you love, it’s been harder being one of the few to not turn their back. It has been hard to say goodbye to Lowell, Beckett, Cabrera, Pudge, Hanley and so on. It has been frustrating to have to defend my own cities’ baseball team to people from within my own city. To walk into a bar or a barber shop with a Marlins cap on and be called a “fool for supporting them” or an “idiot for ever giving that (insert crude statement about the owner) a cent of your money.” Those moments are tough, but what is worse is not being able to actually defend my actions or the franchises’ actions rationally. I’m a Doctoral level student, everything I do is objective and with rationale; except for being a Marlins fan. I can’t defend it. I can’t defend giving money to a franchise that has not given back enough. A franchise that brought a new stadium to the city, but in a very “Marlins way” did so with conflict and controversy. A franchise which tends to be ran on the premise that the way to succeed in baseball is with heavy roster/coaching turnover, plus the added satisfaction of allowing for one of the lowest player budgets in the league. I’d like to add that although I do not fully subscribe to some of the anti-Marlins takes written here (some are simply overblown and incorrect), this piece is not about that, so for the sake of it, let’s just say I am at least aware of them. Nonetheless, It. Is. Tiring. But I’m a fan.
I am a fan, at my current age, for the same reason that I was a fan the first time I saw a Marlins game; because I love baseball, and I strongly care for the players that play for this city (I originally wrote “I love the players who play for this city” but the following sentence would have made that phrasing awkward). I care for Stanton, Dee, Yelich, Realmuto, Bour, Conley and others. I cared for Lowell, Livan, Pudge, Cantu, Uggla, and others. I cried when I read the text message from my mother that Jose had died, I cried when I attended his ceremonies, I cry as I pray for his family, I care for them. I support this team because the sport is one of the hardest around (sorry basketball, you’re really not it), and the players that devote their lives to this game deserve the recognition. I support this team because I am not weak enough (rather than an idiot or a fool as mentioned previously) to allow one man (unnamed owner) to stop me from enjoying the beautiful game that I grew up loving, and the team that is a part of my life. I support this team because it reminds me of my grandfather, my mother, my childhood. I support this team because I am a fan.
I am a fan. And so are you. And as such, you should support. You should support this team because if any group of players deserve for you to be there on Opening Day + other days ahead, it is this group of players. This group that just went through an incredibly taxing — on too many levels to detail — season in 2016. I have decided not to go deeply into the dynamic with Jose Fernandez, mostly because it would feel uncomfortable and dirty to use that in a piece asking for support, but the reality is that this dynamic is real; and I can certainly imagine it is real to the players.
Support because the truth is that no sole individual should strip you of that passion, spirit and fire you have for the beautiful game. On a talent level, I can try to convince you that the ability to succeed is here. It wouldn’t be too difficult of a task: the managing is here (Mattingly and Co.), the lineup talent is here, the young players (Realmuto, Conley, Dee) are here, the star studded outfield (Stanton, Yelich, Ozuna) is here, the “super pen,” the stadium, they are all here. The only thing missing is you.
Let this year be different. Go to the Opener, go to the following games, and enjoy the beauty of the stadium, the talent of the players, the memories of one of the best to ever walk on that field, and most importantly, the happiness of being a fan.
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